Thursday, March 30, 2006

Registering Student Voters: The Myth

Chuck Jones brought up an interesting point yesterday when discussing his campaign, in between the levying of corruption charges and whatnot.  Sez Chuckles:

“In this election, I am going to call for the largest student vote turnout in the history of Athens.”

Chuck’s statement kind of implies that he’s going to embark on a quest to register a massive number of UGA students and get them to vote for him.  Well, good luck, pal.  The streets of Athens are littered with the shells of campaigns that tried to tap into the “student vote” as a path to victory.  To be perfectly fair, Chuck isn’t the first person to think of this – so please don’t think we’re picking on just him.  Andy Rusk has brought it up, and Chuck and Andy are just the examples from this cycle.  Every time we have an election, at least one candidate decides that the path to victory runs through Creswell Hall.  Here’s why it doesn’t.

It’s seductive, it really is.  You’ve got 30,000-plus students out there, many of whom have definite views, and most of whom would be attracted to a young, dynamic candidate, like a Blake Tillery or an Andy Rusk.  For the more idealistically-minded, there’s also no question, given their presence here for at least nine months out of the year (not to mention their contributions to the local economy), that the students deserve a representative voice.

And registering them is super-easy.  Go set up a table in any crowded area of campus, and you’ll get plenty of folks who are willing to register to vote or change their registration to Athens.  

But what do you do with them once they’re registered?  Ay, there’s the rub.  Registration isn’t the hard part – activating your newly-registered voters is the hard part.  Now that requires a field effort the likes of which has never been seen in Athens before.  

We were told there would be no math, but let’s play with some numbers real fast.  Best case scenario, let’s assume that a candidate registers 20,000 students to vote.   Now, in order for your 20,000 new registrations to be able to vote, you’ve got to have them all in to the Board of Elections by October 10.  The election is on November 7, giving these students almost a month to forget that they changed their voter registration.  In fact, quite a few of them probably registered because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but forgot about it by the end of the day.  By the way, unless you’re counting on registering those 20,000 new voters all in one day, then the time to forget about registering is even longer; state law says that the applications have to be in no more than 15 days after they’re filled out.

Anyway, you’ve got 20,000 new voters.  You’ve got their names, addresses, maybe even their phone numbers and email addresses.  How are you going to get them out to vote on November 7?  More importantly, how are you going to get them out to vote for you on November 7?  Remember, they’re swimming in the community pool now, and they’re fair game for any candidate with the wherewithal to get his or her hands on an updated voter file.  

Well, the first step is persuasion.  Again, just because you registered them doesn’t mean that they’re going to vote for you.  So how do you reach them?  Well, there’s direct mail.  Assuming an average cost per piece of mail of $0.75 (and we are so lowballing you here – the good stuff costs upwards of a buck per piece), then you’ve just added another $15,000 to your campaign budget.  But wait, one piece of direct mail isn’t going to do the trick.  You’re going to need multiple hits – at least three or four pieces. (Preferably targeted pieces based on demographic info, but we’re sure that you already thought of that, right candidates?)  So now that $15,000 has become $45,000 or $60,000 and that’s just persuasion, we haven’t even addressed GOTV yet.

Ok, so maybe direct mail isn’t our best tactic.  TV and radio, anyone?  Well, locally, that is going to cost you less than the mail for sure, but you’re also getting a lower ROI, because you can’t hold a TV ad in your hand and look at it carefully.  (Some people actually do read direct mail.)  In any event, expect to spend at least another $15,000 - $25,000 on TV and radio ads for them to do any good whatsoever.

Well, persuasion is expensive, but at least you can buy good persuasion.  Good GOTV work is more a matter of sweat equity.  You’re going to need volunteers, and lots of them, to dragoon those 20,000 college students into going to vote.  Vans to get them there (because not everybody on campus has a car), are also a must.  Even if all 20,000 of your new voters have brand-new SUVs, you still want to transport them yourself, because GOTV – really, really good GOTV – is a controlled process.  You’ve got to move people in the most efficient manner possible, while knowing the status of every targeted voter, and making sure no one falls through the cracks?  Sound complicated?  That’s why the really good field consultants get the big bucks.

Of course there are more passive means of GOTV than a balls-to-the-wall grassroots effort.  You can send emails reminding people to vote.  You can send out a slew of robo-dial calls.  But don’t ask me what your return on investment is going to be.  These are before-the fact reminders, nothing more, and thus far less effective than a real election-day GOTV campaign.  By the way, organizing something like this is, as Chuck says, difficult but not impossible, and there are ways to make the student GOTV somewhat less of a shitshow than it has the potential to be.  Of course, if you want to shell out the big bucks for someone with the knowledge to do it, be our guest.  We’ll even make some recommendations, if you ask nicely enough.

The worst problem any candidate is going to have to deal with in getting student turnout up is the dynamic itself.  There’s a vicious cycle as far as UGA students and Athens politics (the concept, not the blog) are concerned.  Students don’t vote because they feel like a separate entity from the local government.  They feel like a separate entity because they often get screwed by the local government.  They get screwed because they don’t vote.  And the cycle continues.  Can anyone break that cycle?

Probably not.  And there’s another dynamic at work here too.  Many students, as shocking as this might seem, do not consider Athens “home,” and that’s where you vote – home.  

Bottom line on this one.  The students who actually give a rat’s ass about voting in ACC are already, for the most part, registered.  The rest don’t consider this to be their home – they may live in Athens, but they’re from Dublin, or Columbus, or Millen.  

So is registering students and convincing them to take a more active role in their local government a bad thing?  Not at all.  Like we said way back at the top of this post, they live here most of the year, contribute gobs of money to the local economy, and are seriously underrepresented in local government.  But for a campaign to put all of their eggs in the “we’re going to win on the student vote” basket is just silly.  There’s a reason why it hasn’t worked in the past.  Resources (time, energy, and most importantly, money) are too scarce and too valuable on a campaign to do the kind of work that a successful effort like this would require.  And remember, while our hypothetical candidate is focusing on the 30,000-plus UGA students, his or her opponents may well be putting their energy where it belongs – on the 40,000-plus people who are already registered to vote.

Sure, the students need to get organized and start taking a role in local government, but the time to organize the students is in the off-years, not during campaign season, and the people to do it are the students themselves, not the folks who want their votes.


Ned said...

If you really want to reach out to students I have one word for you: Facebook.

Traditional media based marketing isn't going to cut it anymore.

Two years ago I wouldn't have really thought about the internet as a means of reaching UGA students. There wasn't a single site that the majority of them used. The current crop of UGA students has most likely used the internet for communication since the end of middle school and all throughout highschool. They are AIM® generation. You may not be able to get them to come to you, but you can certainly get to them.

Chuck said...

That was a long post!

Ned had a good idea in terms of using Facebook, Myspace, AIM, and other internet resources to reach out to the student population. I plan to make extensive use of these in my campaign.

Publius is correct that it will take a great deal of time, a great deal of energy, and a great deal of money to energize the student vote. However, I think the students are worth it. As was mentioned, it is impossible to overstate their importance to the Athens economy, and also to the community in general in terms of philanthropy done by student groups (particularly Greek-letter organizations).

My campaign will focus on showing students how important it is for them to vote in Athens. As you said, they pay taxes here, they are the backbone of this economy, and still they get treated like garbage by the county government. This county is "home" to them for at least four years. For at least four years they will be living under the decrees of this county government. So I will encourage them to register here so they can have a voice on the Commission.

Of course, I'm not going to put "all my eggs in one basket." The student vote will be critical, but they are not the only voters I want to reach out to. I want to reach out to the rural voters of the First District who rightly feel that they get the short end of the stick when it comes to local government. I want to reach out to the churchgoing voters of the Second and Third districts. I want to reach out to those who think decisions ought to be made in public and not behind closed doors. I want to reach out to all those who feel that their voices by and large go ignored by the political machine currently in power.

Students are just one of those disenfranchised groups. When I said that I want to speak up for all those whose voices are ignored, I mean it. All of them.

Anonymous said...

well, Blake Tillery certainly mobilized massive student turn-out for his race. He wasn't much of a candidate but he was an outstanding campaigner! I have to give him credit for that. He clearly had no understanding of local government whatsoever, no name recognition, no community service, no qualifications of any kind but, he was smart, good looking, had shit-loads of developer money, and could memorize a talking-point sheet better than anybody the Republicans have ever run in ACC. He also worked his butt off and he got those students out to vote in massive numbers - scary as hell numbers! Scary because they damn near turned the commission seat over to one of the least qualified people in the entire district. Let's face it - Blake never wanted to be the commissioner; he just wanted to win the election.

Besides, a great deal of his effort was on behalf of Lyin' Brian Kemp who also had the best performance ever in that district - a district that basically hates him (if you take out the students who have probably all moved back to Atlanta by now.)

Students deserve a voice in our government but they should pick someone who actually knows and cares about our community to be their voice - this Chuck Jones guy ain't it.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

You don't want to reach out to churchgoing voters in the First and Fourth Districts? or non-churchgoing voters in the 2nd and 3rd? Or are you saying that the 2nd and 3rd district voters are the only ones that go to church? I'm just a little confused by that non-sequitur. Explain yourself, man.

Chuck said...

No. I refuse to accept the votes of any church-goers in the First and Fourth Districts. Just kidding of course.

I was, quite obviously, just using those as examples. I realize that in the world of politics people will spin anything you say and will hyper-analyze everything, but still I think it was pretty obvious that those were just examples of how I want to reach out not just to students but to everyone whose voices are ignored.

Anonymous said...

without the moratorium, all those residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, which includes the students, renters, home-owners, businesses, etc. would not have had any opportunity to have their voices heard.

Now, everybody will get a chance. Sounds pretty representative and open to me.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Yeah, you're right. I was just being a little silly, as I'm prone to, and hoping to get a rise out of ya; didn't really work.

But in all seriousness, what do you think you offer for non-students that other candidates don't? Or for students for that matter? I know that you were one for three years, but other than that, what makes you feel qualified to represent this community, as opposed to, for example, someone who has lived here their whole life? I'm not saying that to be hostile or belittling; I'm seriously asking.

Chuck said...

Anonymous: This moratorium was not about people having their voices heard - it was about shutting down fraternities and sororities. David Lynn's own comments reveal this. "Those gentlemen are distinctly unwelcome in my view. I'll keep putting up as many roadblocks as possible." This is not about people's voices being heard - it is about attacking a group of citizens based on an unfair stereotype.

Doubledawg: Great question! In terms of students, first and foremost there is the fact that I am the only one who is standing up for them. In fact when I first decided to run, I had several people say to me "Don't harp on the fraternity thing - it won't get you any votes with anyone else." While I appreciated that advice, I still want to be the candidate who stands up for students. I think Blake did a good job last cycle, but I don't think he went far enough. Dr. Kinman was able to nail him by bringing up the quote where he said he would not use the office to benefit students.

Other candidates will recite the usual platitudes about how students are the bread and butter of the Athens economy, but I'm the one that's putting myself on the line to stand up for them.

In terms of the non-student citizens, I think I can bring my professional experience and my diverse background to the table. You're right that I have not lived in Athens all my life; I have lived in a small town (Winchester, Virginia, home of country music singer Patsy Cline) and a city environment (Raleigh, North Carolina) before settling in Athens. I believe that these experiences enable me to think outside the box, so to speak, in applying successful community building strategies.

As far as my professional experience, I am the proprietor of a small law practice here in Athens, where I intend to "set up shop" for the long term. So I have a vested interest in the success of this community. In my practice, I have committed a great deal of time to pro bono work - for example, I have represented low income clients with respect to poor housing conditions, so I understand the need to strengthen the housing codes. I represented low income clients who had disability related legal issues, so I appreciate the need to make our community completely accessible to all citizens.

It is never easy for a new attorney to take on a lot of pro bono cases. Obviously, it cuts down on the income. However, I've made those sacrifices because I believe in these things, I believe in these people, and I believe that together we can work toward a better Athens.

Anonymous said...

Chuck wrote: "This moratorium was not about people having their voices heard - it was about shutting down fraternities and sororities. David Lynn's own comments reveal this. "Those gentlemen are distinctly unwelcome in my view. I'll keep putting up as many roadblocks as possible." This is not about people's voices being heard - it is about attacking a group of citizens based on an unfair stereotype."

Let me say that I think David Lynn's comments were pretty over the top - other commissioners I've spoken with also think that so, you cannot characterize (or should I say your favorite word?) the entire commission based on Mr. Lynn's comments.

But, you really bring up another most interesting topic! The students and/or various student groups frequently think that everything the commission does is somehow related to them - it's laughable! It's a special kind of arrogance for them to think that the commission is always basing their decisions on them. In this case, the "stereotyping" and bias was against the noise and traffic problems. Nobody was exercising any particular dislike or even consideration of the kind of people there were there - that's not a germaine issue. What is germaine is the duty of the commission to protect the neighborhoods from excessive traffic and noise. Maybe David has it in for frat boys but, nobody else I know on the commission does. It would be exactly the same issues and the same actions if it were any other group home situation that held frequent and large meetings. For the Greeks to try to say "they just don't like us" is childish and inaccurate.

You are welcome to your opinion but it might be a different opinion if you actually spoke with the commissioners on either side of the issue. Since I have spoken with over half of them about it, I understand what they were trying to do and why they had no choice.

My personal opinion is that the Greeks got all pissy because they got caught trying to slip through before anybody noticed what they were doing. As it turns out, all group homes (including Greek) had always been under the "special use" designation but, somehow, a few years back, when the new land use plan and ordinances were written up, this particular segment was inadvertently left out. It was a clerical error that the Greeks were attempting to exploit. Nice try. Didn't work.

So, to cry that the current commission hates students or hates the Greeks, or whatever is just a damn silly thing but, keep campaigning on it if you like. I look forward to you being proven wrong in public.

Chuck said...

I agree with you that David Lynn's comments were unacceptable. However, this is the attitude that won the day, by your own admission. As you said, the only thing anyone cared about was the stereotype of a noisy frat house. They did not give any bit of consideration to the good work Greek organizations do for the community, the funds they raise and the hours they volunteer to help the less fortunate. In view of that, I think that students and Greek organizations particularly deserve some give and take.

I don't think that these young people were trying to "exploit" anything or anybody. They are hard working, productive citizens who give a lot back to the community and I think they are entitled to some consideration for that. Certainly they are entitled to be treated better than they are now.

And I certainly do not believe the excuse "they had no choice." There is always a choice. The commission chose to stereotype people into the "Animal House" category, instead of treating them like individuals and giving them consideration for the work they do to benefit the less fortunate. The students of Athens have a choice too - they can choose to accept that unfair treatment, or they can choose to elect a Commissioner who will stand up for them. I hope they choose the latter.

bulletdawg said...

Chuck: "My campaign will focus on showing students how important it is for them to vote in Athens."

As a former UGA student who never registered to vote in Clarke County, I just don't see the need for student voting in ACC.

Chuck: "As you said, they pay taxes here"

I would have to assume that most students pay only one tax in ACC: the sales tax. The payment of the sales tax is not indicative of citizenship. You pay taxes in Oconee County everytime you visit the Lowe's/Home Depot/Cracker Barrell on the westside, do you demand a right to vote there? When I travelled to Jacksonville to see the Dogs take on the evil Gators, I stopped at a gas station in Nassau County, FL, but I don't think my purchase of a MilkyWay entitles me to determine how that county spends its money.

The sales tax is a minor investment from the individual student into the county's budget. It's not like students are paying property taxes each year.

Chuck: "still they get treated like garbage by the county government."

Really, garbage? In what area(s), does the commission treat the large student population like yesterday's trash?

Chuck:"This county is "home" to them for at least four years."

For most purposes, students are considered residents of their home counties. Students are NOT required by law to change their driver's license, their car tag, their address for tax purposes, their voter registration, etc. when they go off to college.

The vast majority of students come to Athens for 4-7 years, receive their UGA diploma, and then hit to road back home or some other place far from ACC. After graduate school, I anticipate moving back to my home county (Columbia). I am concerned with the quality of schools, roads, services, etc. there not in ACC.

Jmac said...

Bulletdawg, I think you're underselling the importance of students to our local economy, and the fact that as residents of this community for four to seven years, they have a vested interest in our local government's affairs. A good friend of mine is pursuing his Ph.D. after earning both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at UGA, and he and his wife have done their best to get involved in the community, all the while knowing there will be an end date to their time here.

So if students want to register to vote and participate in the process, then more power to them.

Still, I don't want it to come across as if I'm discounting your central point, which is that students are not lifelong residents of Athens-Clarke County. So while I think they're entitled to participate in the process, it's also important to consider than Katie from Delta Gamma will probably not be here in two years when we elect other commissioners to their terms. Is it then entirely fair to grant such political power to individuals who quite possibly won't be in town long enough to see the officials they elected complete their terms?

It's a tough act to balance.

BTW ... you're from Columbia County? I'm a Richmond County fella myself ... from back in the day, 1996-style. Westside still in the house!

Anonymous said...

permanent residents view the students as guests in every sense of the word. we want to make them feel welcome and offer them our hospitality and hope they enjoy their short time with us. we appreciate their contributions, like we would if they helped do the dishes after dinner at our house.

But, even in the south we don't expand our definition of hospitality to include having our guests manage our homes, our money, our budgets, etc. The law says they are allowed to vote whether they are nice guests and whether they choose to help us or not. Fair or not, that's the law and we respect that. We just hope that our guests will respect that this is not their home and they shouldn't expect to have a say in how it is run. Like somebody said, most of the commission business has nothing to do with the students so, I see it as kinda rude that students would try to tell those of us who make this our home how we should conduct our business.

Dawg Corleone said...

What the hell is that picture on Chuck's website?

Come to think of it, why isn't Chuck's picture on Chuck's website?

Adrian said...

Bulletdawg: You're wrong about the taxes. Most students rent private dwellings, and that rent money provides a lot of property tax revenue.

Anonymous: You're guest analogy is an unhelpful stretch. The students that live here for one, two, or ten years are not renting *your* bedroom. You have your private property and they have theirs. Let's flip this around: What right do you have to tell them what do on their private property? We have a democracy here. Those students that truly feel like guests are not voting here anyway.

Doubledawg: Be careful about pointing to length of residency in a particular place. It has some bearing on a resident's knowledge and interests, but not enough from which to draw conclusions. Few things rile me up more than people that arrogantly claim their long residency or taxpayer status in a location gives more validity to their views.

Adrian said...

My goodness, I'm slipping. I wrote "you're" instead of "your."

Publius said...

Ok, I've made up my mind. I'm going to vote for the District 9 supercommissioner based on whoever I believe will respond best to the usual "cape and tights" jokes I make about supercommissioners. Right now, I think Ed Vaughn is the best bet...heck he might even put on the cape and tights to campaign in.

On a related note, I think if I make many more cape and tights jokes about Elton Dodson, he might leave a flaming bag of poo on my doorstep. So I've got that going for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the more I read the more I like Ed Vaughn.

Anonymous said...

If you meet Ed Vaughn, you'll change your mind about him. The guy's a little odd.

Anonymous said...

Kelly Girtz remains our best hope.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...


I didn't claim it made mine, or anyone else's views more "valid"; I simply feel that it is, as you conceded, one factor (and I think a strong one) in one's ability to effectively represent a community. It's a factor that militates against electing Mr. Jones, and I was simply giving him a chance to explain why we should elect him anyway.

Anonymous said...

it ain't how long you've been here, it's how long you plan to stay.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Well, that's a fair point, and Mr. Jones did say in response that he intends to stay for a while. As a general matter, though, I would say how long you've been here is at least some indication of how long you intend to stay (with obvious exceptions).

All I'm saying is it matters. I'm not saying it's determinative, or even the most important factor. Obviously a candidate's views and philosophy of government are most important (and I'm not sure I like what I see there with Mr. Jones, either). But given two candidates that I otherwise roughly agreed with on those things, one of which was a native Athenian and the other of which moved here for grad school, I think I would go with the native Athenian. Not because his/her views are more "valid" as a result of living here, or because of any kind of provincialism or good-ol-boy network or whatever you want to call it, but simply because I would feel that that candidate had a better sense of the needs, wants, etc. of the community than the other.

Charles R said...

I express my opinions so decidedly for a person my age. With this recognition in mind, in response to this:
"This is not about people's voices being heard - it is about attacking a group of citizens based on an unfair stereotype."
I say this:
"Some stereotypes are earned, and thus are fair."

I am not sure how the moral valuation works that if someone contributes to the financial well-being of a local economy or pools those resources and uses them to contribute to the "help" of the less fortunate, we can mitigate some of our concerns about what that person does with the rest of their time and resources. Supposing it is true that someone is an obnoxious drunk, even when we add to this that when sober this same person gives alms to the poor and toys to the kids, it is still true that the person is an obnoxious drunk. We may be called to recognize among fraternities certain admirable qualities, such as helping the poor. Given the kind of material resources fraternities and sororities can summon and coordinate, to have this characteristic can definitely make great progressive strides forward and positively impact any local community where a fraternity or sorority chooses to mobilize these assets. But I see dissipation and indulgence, selfishness and indecency. I don't think anyone can be reasonable without understanding that fraternities and sororities carry with them these other characteristics and qualities. I know of fraternities that treat criminality as commonplace, even as rites of passage into adulthood, where public sex acts and bacchanal are as lawn gnomes and flower displays for neighbors.

I know I'm biased, prejudiced, about this. My judgments are based upon years of observation and action. I think the movies, whether classic (Animal House) or ironic-nostalgic (Old School), are diminished by the reality. So, to suggest to an interested voter that I should pay attention and be made aware of the good things these semi-permanent collections of young adults do in my local neighborhood is, for me, to suggest I be a fool. I do not vote for people who think I am a fool.

But I am one person with little to no influence on others. My vote can be safely discounted in the statistical sense. I do assent to adrian's point that, perhaps in this country, I do not have the right to tell someone else what to do on their own private property (making all necessary changes for such situations as engaging in indecent acts in a place visible from a public space, and so on). But, it is exactly those parenthetical situations that I take it are situations in which people have the right to tell one another what we can and cannot do, and more often than not that is where these groups err socially. This is what I don't understand, although I'll readily grant my lack of thought on this is due to my ignorance of the larger Athens political scene: if the reason for why I should adopt a more open-minded and progressive and tolerating stance towards fraternities and sororities or for why one should give support to a political mobilization of these fraternities and sororities is due to an injustice in the perception of the fraternities and sororities, I take it there will be that much stronger of a mobilization or affirmative stance towards those living in government-assisted housing, whether Parkview or Rocksprings or elsewhere. How much more the injustice of being judged on the basis of "a few bad eggs" than to be considered a criminal by virtue of how one's rent is paid.

Perhaps this is the racially-charged Marxist reading I give to things, when I should see this more from the perspective of someone whose tolerance exceeds all bounds. Perhaps, Chuck, you really do mean to give a voice to all those who are oppressed by political machines. When you say you "believe in these people", I should take it you are very inclusive towards 'these'. I cannot myself be reasonable and impugn your own charitable work and pro bono legal services. I can, though, say that, while it may be a "damn silly thing" from the point of view of one anonymous commentor, I stand firm to the stereotype I have, having seen with my own two eyes the solid evidence of a pattern.

Fishplate said...

So, given Athens-Clarke's ponderous collection of Code items included under the umbrella of so-called "Nuisance Ordinances", in what behaviour do fraternities engage that is offensive and afffective of property values, yet are not covered by those ordinances?

andyrusk said...

Dressing up like General Lee in a historically African- American neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

I don't subscribe to everything written by "charles r" but I bet there are lots of folks who do. I also can't dispute that there is a lot of truthiness in that post. After all, the leadership of the frats and sororities come up with these great projects but not every participating member is participating gladly. For many, it is a requirement. As in every group, it only takes a few to behave badly and the whole group gets painted with the same brush. Life is not fair.

when "fishplate" alludes to the fact that there are plenty of laws to control much of the bad behavior, he/she opens a couple of interesting and controversial points. The first one I thought of was that most all of these ordinances are complaint driven in their enforcement. That means that for them to be effective, some citizen has to first be harmed in some way. Is that alright with everybody? That some innocent souls have to be disturbed, harmed, have their property rights infringed upon, their peace disturbed, etc. and then have the courage and take the time to lodge a complaint with the authorities seems like a new and unnecessary burden on folks who probably don't benefit much from the occaisional "good works" of these groups.
The second thought, which followed quickly upon the first is that these greeks are now going to have to deal with the real police. The UGA police have a kind of unwritten rule that you don't mess with the children of the large donors to UGA. We're starting to see a little bit less tolerance but there is still quite a bit of the "Mike Adams says we have to go easy on the rich kids" culture in the campus cop shop.
Since parents of the spoiled rich kids (I'm still referring to a minority of the greeks) never willingly donate to ACC - probably because we don't have a football team - then, ACC loses nothing by treating them just like any other law-breakers. The ACC police and courts don't have the pressure of the rich alums.
So, I think this is trouble in the making. I'd rather be wrong but I fear I'm more right than wrong on this one. The greeks should really stay on campus where they will have more leeway in their behaviors and have more leverage with their daddy's money.

fivepts said...

Mr. Jones, I wish you the best, but I have to agree with Publius and Anonymous. Unless you have some outside sources we have no clue about (ie. your grand dad was the secretary of state or maybe a former governor) you are going to have a tough time winning this race and even being seen as credible. I think credibility starts with money. Where will you get the money? How much does a regular commission seat cost? How much did a traditional candidate raise? How much did Hamby raise when he ran against O'Looney? How much did Tillery raise? I don't know if it was more or less than usual, but think it would be interesting to see if it took more money for them to run these types of campaigns. Second question: if it does take money, can you raise it?

Third Point: If your only issue is the moratorium, then there are other things you can do besides run for commission.

Side note: Anyone heard anything about a student running for Jane Kidd's seat? Where are these kids getting their advice? I'm all for young people getting involved, but I think they have all started drinking the kool aid after seeing their buddy try it last time. I have said it before, he was a good candidate, like anonymous said, but remember Tillery lost.

Anonymous said...

Who's Kelly Girtz ?

Chuck said...

Wow.. you go away for a weekend and you miss a lot around here! I've heard Kelly Girtz's name mentioned as well as Ed Vaughn's - what about Alvin Sheats? Given his experience I would have thought he would be the front runner.

Dawg Corleone: That orange graphic came with the website template (no offense to the template authors who probably adore the graphic). As I mentioned, the website is being put up in pieces and will be fully operational when I announce formally. Also, my picture is indeed on the website - on the front page actually. Hint: I'm not two, and I'm white :)

Charles and Anonymous: First, I don't think the tired excuse "life is not fair" should ever be used to justify stereotyping and discriminating against people based on a stereotype. If it were, then we would never have advanced to squash injustices in our society. The fact that we as a society do try to correct wrongs and eliminate prejudice shows us that while life may not be fair, we can do our part to try to make it fair - or even a little less unfair - by eliminating our own prejudices.

Whether Greeks should stay on campus or not is not the issue. I personally think they should be allowed to stay on campus. However, the county government cannot do much about that. (If you have a suggestion as to how the M&C can force Michael Adams to do anything, please let me know!) The issue is whether they deserve to be discriminated against based on a stereotype.

Further, I do not think there is any such thing as a "fair stereotype". Stereotypes are inherently unfair, because they always characterize a great many people inaccurately. As you know, there are many in this community who have lived day in and day out being judged according to others' pre-conceived ideas. I don't think that coming in with the argument "Prejudice is good" is going to be very successful.

Anonymous made a good point that the people who are complaining about Greeks are the ones who do not benefit much from their good works. Personally I think it is more important to tackle the major issues of poverty, domestic violence, women's cancer, and the other issues that are the recipient of Greeks' generosity. If that means we have to engage in some "give and take" with them, then so be it.

I do not expect to earn the vote of the grumpy man sitting on his front porch with 911 on speed dial for every time that he hears a sorority sister sneeze. I also do not expect to earn the vote of the truly obnoxious neighbor - the one who says "To hell with you, I'm going to play my bass cannon as loud as I want to, and at any hour I want to." However, I think that the vast majority of people fall somewhere in the middle. The permanent residents want there to be reasonable quiet, of course, but they also remember what it was like to be young once, and most are willing to let young people have their fun. I think that the vast majority of Greeks feel the same way - they understand the need to be good neighbors, and are willing to work toward being good neighbors. But they feel like they are being treated unfairly by the "other side" - and no one wants to work with someone who they feel is treating them unfairly.

Fivepts: The moratorium is not my only issue; I would recommend checking out the Issues page of my website. There are more that are going to be added this week, but there are some up there now. Secondly, I believe that I will raise enough money from the community to make this a successful campaign. Of course, I have not formally announced yet, but when I do and start filing reports then I'm sure questions about my ability to connect with the community and raise funds will be put to rest.

You're right that I do not come from a wealthy family. My parents both work - dad works in a factory making light bulbs and mom is a computer analyst. My only living grandparents are an immigrant from Germany and a former enlisted MP in World War 2. I don't come from money, that's true. But these people instilled in me strong values, of being a good person, a good Christian, and a good neighbor. They taught me to care for the poor, to help the less fortunate, and to care about the feelings and the rights of other people. All of which I feel are critical, especially in this community.

hillary said...

Anyone going to talk about Mr. Rusk's point?

Fishplate said...

Hillary - I'm unaware of a Constitutional provision that prevents one from being offended. Or even an A-CC "Nuisance Ordinance" against same.

So, if Mr. Rusk wants to dress up as Cump Sherman and walk down Broad Street, it is entirely his decision. And if citizens turn their offense into violence, then they should suffer the consequences.

The fact is, If I dress up in a gray costume, I don't deprive anyone of life, liberty or property, regardless of what others think I might be advocating.

The fraternity in question has their opinion, and others have different opinions. That is as it should be. However, the freedom to speak is not always accompanied by the wisdom to speak.

hillary said...

Look. I'm just saying it makes it a little more understandable that the neighborhood is pissed. And it's an aspect of the situation that's not being discussed. I don't think it makes any legal difference whatsoever. That doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it though.

Dawg Corleone said...

So let the 'hood be pissed. As long as--as pointed out by Fish--they don't get violent or otherwise unlawful, I'm free to not give a damn whether they're pissed or not. The whole town doesn't have stop and have some kind of navel-gazing meet-up just because a few people might get pissed.

Personally, I'd say life is too short, but if they want to waste time and effort getting worked up over something as inane as this, that's their business.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Pithy comments: Boy, that took a while to read. I wonder how many pages that translates to in 12 pt Times New Roman?

Student voting: Students determine their own level of involvement, not anyone else. If they want to vote in their home counties, they can. If they want to vote where they rent, they can. From my long ago experience, 'permanent residents' don't have much to worry about, however, as many students have more important things to worry about than voting. Otherwise, the drinking age in ACC would be 18.

Ordinances: Try enforcing the ones you have rather than making new ones to ignore.

Michael Adams: Elect a governor who will demand the Board of Regents stop their fisticuff tomfoolery & get rid of him.

The Confederacy?: Are those big, bad Kappa Alphas still offending everyone with their costume party? I remember one fine spring afternoon many years hence when their rebel flag was absconded with by a minority Boneshakers' regular in tight purple spandex. They chased him slowly up Lumpkin on horseback (the horses wouldn't run on the pavement). It looked like the funniest parade you've ever seen. But that's neither here nor there.

The Confederate Ball has been going on since the 60's, if not before. You'd reckon folks would see it as the harmless party it is after all these years. If folks are really offended and looking to make a statement, there are a number of Georgia-based Union Reenactment Regiments that can be hired to parade right along with them.

Anonymous said...

I can agree with some of what dawg corleone says, which is pretty scary, except that I would turn it around and substitute "the Greeks" for "the 'hood". After all, the hoodsters already have a sgnificant investment in their property and the Greeks don't really have any since (I think) they get their money back if they can't build.
I'd rather piss off a couple hundred folks who are not there than a couple hundred who are.
I just think he's got the wrong group doing the navel gazing.

If we're going to protect people's property rights, let's protect everybody's.

Persoally, I think Mr. Corleone just wants somebody to be pissed off about something in most any situation. I don't but, if I have to choose...

Fishplate said...

Your property rights are dependent on zoning. If you make your personal housing investment in an area where multifamily-type housing is allowed, don't be surprised when multifamily-type housing is built. The neighbourhood may be pissed, and that's their prerogative. But to deny this use requires a burden of proof that they might not be able to bear.

It is my understanding that the neighbourhood where this house is proposed needs no zoning change, just planning approval. Denial of that approval requires justification, which cannot be based on an idea like "All frat boys are noisy and offensive to descendants of slaves". Other than that, I don't see what there is to talk about. It's up to the owner of the land to decide to what use he wants his land put, subject to the laws. If the neighbourhood convinces him that KA is not wanted, he can decide on another use. Or, the neighbours could band together and make a better offer to the current owner, buy the subject property, and build a public park.

I'm having a hard time seeing the difference between a fraternity building a house in an area where that type of use is allowed, and LPDS, which was arguably less suited, since a zoning change/variance was needed.

Charles R said...

Chuck, to be clear, I am not the one who thinks that it is acceptable to judge a situation on the basis of the maxim "Life is not fair." On the contrary, I believe my prejudice is based upon a certain kind of accumulated evidence. So, I use the word 'stereotype' in full recognition of its etymological roots: stereos—hard, firm, durable; typos—mark, stamp, form, impression. The long-standing impression I have from my encounters with the fraternities comes from dealing with them in my capacity as a law enforcement officer. While you may see the side of fraternities and sororities that includes helping the poor, homeless, indigent by collecting and distributing material goods—a side I recognize as the possibility for true social and political change, I see the side that harbors racist and obnoxious thoughts and actions towards others. You say that we should make life "a little less unfair" by eliminating our own prejudices. I think that's an inconsistent way to go about using language: your prejudice that fraternities are being unjustly treated is based upon your recognition of their virtuous deeds to the poor, homeless, indigent. If prejudices are to be eliminated, begin with your own "good" prejudice. Perhaps this is just a silly thing to say here, that I'm not impressed with only considering a prejudice as a negative judgment.

Nevertheless, I am even more put off by this unsubtle characterization of my (as one example) prejudice towards fraternities and sororities (I take it we are not considering black or East Asian fraternities or sororities, given the concerns for locations of houses, which involve already amassed property wealth) as comparable to prejudice towards the poor, the homeless, the indigent, or even the Black, the Chinese, the Jewish, or whatever substitutes for socially-acceptable accounts of unacceptable practices. You say that many in the community have lived daily under judgment on account of what others pre-conceive. I presume you want to say that the next victims in the cultural and social wars of prejudice and antipathy are the landed, white, middle- to upper-middle class young men and women associating with one another in the fraternities and sororities, whereas in the past (and still currently) the victims are poor, black, Amerindians, lower classes, classless, homeless, &tc. This is an audacious characterization. You say that an argument asserting "Prejudice is good" will not be successful. I'll say that your attempt to render the plight (if we call it that) of people who live in fraternities and sororities as comparable to the injustices committed against various minorities is, in charitable terms, "not successful."

I agree that I do not benefit from the good or virtuous things fraternities or sororities do. I also agree that we should focus political and social action towards poverty, domestic violence, or, generally speaking, unjust human suffering. We should be noble and come out against cancer. If you do think it more important to work towards permanent and local solutions to these things, I do not see where letting fraternities or sororities "have their fun" fits into the art of statecraft.

You say that we should engage in some "give and take" in order to allow fraternities and sororities the opportunities to do the just thing and use their amassed material wealth and resources to alleviate unjust human suffering. We should side with the majority who thinks the fraternities and sororities should be let to have fun. What, exactly, are you saying is this "fun"? Let me suggest are a few of the things I have seen. I have seen open acts of sex. I have seen battery on strangers. I have seen harassment of minorities, especially Black and Latino men. I have seen public acts of urination, defecation, and vomitting (every orifice is covered). I see littering and abandoned waste. If an apartment complex had occupants who engaged in such consistently disruptive behavior, I would expect a local community to take what it considered appropriate action. But because such occupants at this time are members of an organization which fits into a larger, social-cultural organization named by the term 'Greek', you think it unfair for me to judge these organizations on the basis of what I have seen. I should reconsider my prejudice and be, what?, more open-minded or tolerant? I should engage in a give-and-take with organizations that have already been given much more material wealth for committing to social and political reform than the groups you want to identify them with, but who use that material wealth in a dissipative, but youthfully fun, lifestyle. Chuck, as I said, I think your argument is, charitably speaking, "not successful".

My tone here is perhaps conducive to the image of a grumpy man who speed dials the police for harmless things. If that is the prejudice you have of people who dislike having fraternities or sororities, perhaps you have earned that judgment as a result of the people with whom you have spoken or interacted. But as a police officer who has responded to calls, I will say that my pre-conceptions and my judgments are informed by what I have seen, heard, smelled, and stepped over.

I will say this, though. My experiences with black or East Asian fraternities and sororities have been uniformly positive over the years of my encounters with them. I have no complaints about them, and much praise. I think the organizational capabilities and the use of collective resources available to fraternities and sororities make them great sites for political involvement and action, as I had said above. If there were some way to mobilize fraternities and sororities into committed political positions, rather than an apathetic service requirement orientation, I would be behind that movement, more if it represented my own political stands and less if not, but I would still be behind it. What I will not do is engage in a political praxis of "give and take", where hedonism is given a pass in favor of an occasional act of virtue.

I apologize to patrick for the length of this comment.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Aww, dude, I wasn't complainin' - just shocked at the sheer size of the thread.

I checked too: by my printer's calculations, this thread is currently at 22 pages. That could probably be collapsed down to 18 with margin adjustment.

That's a pretty impressive treatise discussing the voting habits of the UGA student bloc.

Adrian said...

What I have recently learned about zoning is this: A special use is a use allowed by the present zoning, but before that particular use may begin there must be a review of the planned use to confirm that it meets its legal requirements.

A planning agency does not have discretion to deny a special use permit if the legal requirements of the planned use are met.

Putting a moratorium on a special use permit application is a refusal to review the proposed use. It is effectively rezoning without actually rezoning, which is why enacting a moratorium on special use permits is so questionable from a legal standpoint. All opinions about where fraternities should be allowed aside, the commission has chosen to stop allowing fraternities where the zoning already allows them.

Anonymous said...

a bit of a gray area since "group homes" are not technicaly considered a legitimate "multi-family" use - lots of places around the country have special use designation for fraternities, sororities, half-way houses, shelters, etc. since they are quite different from apartments in many ways and similar in others.

I'm just saying that this is not as simple an issue as some have made it out to be and I'm glad that we've called a time-out to consider it.

Blake Tillery said...

Mr. Publius,

You're completely wrong about registering being easier than turnout, but everything else you're pretty dead on about. Money is key, as horrible as that may sound, but the hardest thing to do, and most vital as well, is to surround yourself with capable people. I was able to do well, not because of any personal capability, or even help from Atlanta as some have suggested, which was very minimum at best, but because our volunteer campaign team was so good at what they did: meeting people, registering them to vote, and getting every piece of information possible to turn them out on election day. I may run for office again one day, but I know I will never again be a part of such a fabulous team that was so dedicated to their task. I promise you, I can take no credit for turning out student voters, all of that lies at the feet of my 7 friends that busted their butt for me for 10 months. If you have any other questions about student voting, I'd be happy to throw anything I've learned.

Blake Tillery said...

Mr. Publius,

You're completely wrong about registering being easier than turnout, but everything else you're pretty dead on about. Money is key, as horrible as that may sound, but the hardest thing to do, and most vital as well, is to surround yourself with capable people. I was able to do well, not because of any personal capability, or even help from Atlanta as some have suggested, which was very minimum at best, but because our volunteer campaign team was so good at what they did: meeting people, registering them to vote, and getting every piece of information possible to turn them out on election day. I may run for office again one day, but I know I will never again be a part of such a fabulous team that was so dedicated to their task. I promise you, I can take no credit for turning out student voters, all of that lies at the feet of my 7 friends that busted their butt for me for 10 months. If you have any other questions about student voting, I'd be happy to throw anything I've learned.